Monday, 28 December 2015

Merry Sithmas

I hope everyone enjoyed a break of some sort over the last few days, even though I don't really believe in Christmas I seem to have managed to have three Christmas dinners over three days and have enjoyed the holidays more this year than I have in a long time.  With all the (justifiable) hype over the new Star Wars movie I correctly predicted that I'd get a slew of Star Wars related gifts.

Some good stuff here, the 'Spark of Rebellion' DVD is one that I haven't seen and I really love the mug, I feel the tea will be strong in this one (sorry, terrible joke I know).  I'm not entirely convinced with the sticker book however.

The highlight has to be the metalworks 1:20 scale R2-D2 model.  This was a lot more complicated than it looked at first glance.  Clearly I'm no novice when it comes to model making, but this is the first time I've never done metal-folding and there was a lot of learning of techniques as I was building it, I found it pretty tricky at times and in the end I haven't got it quite right.  It took a lot longer than I expected as well, several hours in fact.  I like the end result and will have to try and get another one from the range at some point.

I couldn't help but buy myself some of the brand new Lego sets for 'The Force Awakens' as well, focusing for now on the incredibly stylish First Order.

I saw the new movie a couple of days before Christmas, and whilst I'm not going to do a full spoiler filled review I am just going to say that I liked it a lot, it's not perfect, but I reckon 8.5 out of 10.  Star Wars is finally back and I can't wait for the next installment.

May the force be with you, always....... 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Review - Kings of War: Uncharted Empires

I've been eagerly awaiting this book, Kings of War has been very well received in my gaming group and we've been having a lot of fun experimenting with new army lists.  This book of new lists by Mantic is a very clever move, they don't make minis for any of them, but quite a few bear a striking resemblance to armies from the now defunct Warhammer Fantasy Battles.  This will ultimately encourage even more people to give KoW a try and allows those of us who already have extensive Warhammer collections to use a lot more of our minis in our games, and ultimately for our group pretty much signals our complete conversion from Warhammer Fantasy to KoW.  It sounds like a giant win-win, lets take a closer look.

The book is just over 70 pages, softback and in full colour, plenty of art and photos, some new some reused.  The footprint is the same as the gamers edition of the main rulebook and the interior is done in the same style.  This is all for the good, I like things to match, it makes it feel like there's a bit of thought gone into the range.  There are nine new lists for some of Mantica's minor factions, and whilst a lot of them are shall we say 'Inspired' by Warhammer fantasy armies the included background section for each list grounds them firmly within the Kings of War world.

Lets take a brief overview of the Lists one by one.

Name: The Brotherhood
Alignment: Good
Warhammer Equivalent: Bretonnians

This knightly Brotherhood guard the southern realms from the depravations of the abyss.  These are classic good guy knights and peasents, very closely following the Bretonnian mould, except with added water elementals.  There are different flavours of knights, including the long lost and much asked for foot knights and some cool flying knights.  And there is even a Robin Hood style unit which will allow me to use my 'Bowmen of Bergerac' minis again.  It's not the most inspired list, but then neither was the Bretonnia one, but it is solid and I definitely plan on giving it a go.

Name: Salamanders
Alignment: Good
Warhammer Equivalent: Lizardmen

This one like the Brotherhood is very inspired by the Warhammer equivalent, in this case the Lizardmen.  The Saurus have been renamed Salamanders, the skinks Ghekkotah and the Kroxigor Tyrants.  No sign of any Slann though.  There are also added fire elementals to fit in with the Salamander background.

Name: The Herd
Alignment: Neutral
Warhammer Equivalent: Beastmen

Fauns, Stayrs, Beastmen, Centaurs, Minotaurs etc.  This is my favourite list in this book, I love the fact that they made them neutral which puts a totally different stance on them.  I think this makes a great companion list to my favoured Forces of Nature army.  Nice to see Harpies and especially Lycans in the list as I have some being painted.  Adding some units from this list to my collection is definitely going to happen.

Name: League of Rhordia
Alignment: Neutral
Warhammer Equivalent: None

I've said 'none' for the equivalent army here, but it's sort of old school Empire.  This is a mix of fairly standard human troops, lots of Hobbits Halflings and some cool war machines.  The ability to field Halfling armies is welcome and it's cleverly done with the humans to create a balanced list, whilst leaving the pure Halfling army open.  Not on the immediate horizon for me though.

Name: The Trident Realm of Neritica
Alignment: Neutral
Warhammer Equivalent: None

This one was unexpected, finally the much joked about Fishmen list appears!  Most of the troops are a variety of Naiad, which is handy as Mantic will be releasing plastic Naiads in the new year, this list is the converting opportunity list.  Just how far can you push that one sprue? As well as the Naiads you get various water elementals and sea monsters.  I also think calling the armoured Naiads Placoderms was inspired!

Name: The Empire of Dust
Alignment: Evil
Warhammer Equivalent: Tomb Kings

The ancient desert undead, mummies, pharaohs, chariots, scorpions and plenty of long dead skeletons.  Another pretty straight 'inspired' list here, nothing really exciting or radical, but of course welcome if you have a tomb kings army, or just really like undead chariots.

Name: Night-Stalkers
Alignment: Evil
Warhammer Equivalent: None

This one is interesting.  The night-stalkers are the embodiment of the fears, horrors, nightmares and dreams of mortals.  A whole army of trans-dimensional Nightmares.  Rules wise they are fascinating they have no inspiring of their own, but steal their opponents, they also have a unit that can use all their opponents fighting characteristics in combat.  I'm not quite sure what to make of it all yet, but it certainly is interesting.  I'm also not sure which models to use, Mike (my regular opponent and irregular contributor on this blog) has a plan to use some of his Tyranid minis to play this list.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with and I'll see if I can persuade him to share it here.

Name: Ratkin
Alignment: Evil
Warhammer Equivalent: Skaven

Another pretty straight copy here, but nonetheless a welcome one.  In the Mantica background they are a former slave race who have broken free.  You have the various infantry you'd expect with a mix of crazy war machines.  In a change from Warhammer you can also have Ratkin cavalry and you can give the Vermin Lord equivalent wings!  I have small Skaven Ratkin army, with some more to paint up at some point, and one of my main opponents has a large collection so we're really pleased to see this one included.

Name: The Varangur
Alignment: Evil
Warhammer Equivalent: Warriors of Chaos

These are the barbarian tribes from the north with attendant monsters.  You have heavy and light infantry and cavalry a few specialist infantries (including some bowmen!), trolls and wolves.  Pretty much what was expected (except the bowmen).  The background is a bit different than I expected though and I like it.  The Varangur don't worship the Abyssals as I was expecting, but a different older god of the north 'Korgaan' he is a many faced god and there is a limited 'mark' system here as well.  As I have quite a big Warriors of Chaos force I'll be looking to try out this list at some point.

In conclusion I think this is a fantastic and imaginative product, and I have absolutely no qualms in heartily recommending this.  In fact I would even go so far as to say it's an essential purchase if you're a KoW player.  I also hope Mantic do eventually make some minis to support this, a single plastic kit for each of the lists would be a great start.  Things continue to look very bright for Kings of War.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Reaper Bones for Kings of War

Kings of War has been set aside now for a few months whilst we play dungeon saga over the cold winter nights.  This doesn't mean that I'm not working on my armies in the mean time.   Today I have a few recent editions that are all from the 'Bones' range by reaper minis.  These are cheap flexible plastic figures designed mainly for roleplaying, but I found a way to add these ones to my KoW collection.

First off is this Ogre chieftain, who I'm planning on using as a Warlord for my small, but growing Ogre force.

This is a unicorn for my Forces of Nature army.  I already have an old citadel unicorn, but couldn't resist getting this one as well.

Keeping with the forces of nature here we have a dryad, a beastman and a hunter of some sort, these will all be used as 'hunters of the wild' in my army.

These quirky figures are 'mushroom men' the small ones will also be used as 'hunters of the wild' whereas the big one will make an expert forest shamble.

And finally this demon figure which will make an excellent succubi champion for my embryonic Abyssal army.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Using Dungeon Saga For Kings of War

A few days ago I posted an unboxing of my Dungeon Saga kickstarter package, with this giant pile of minis from the world of Mantica I couldn't help wonder if I could get some Kings of War units out of all this.

One of the defining features of KoW as opposed to Warhammer is that unit sizes are fixed, usually 10, 20 or 40 for standard infantry, or 3 or 6 for large infantry.  This makes putting together units out of the set slightly trickier than it was when I used my Warhammer Quest minis in my Warhammer armies back in the day, however here are my solutions...

The easiest place to start is with the heroes and bosses, most of which happily serve as characters  for their respective armies.

The four heroes out of the starter set can be used as Kingdoms of Men, wizard, a Kingdoms of men hero, an Elf Master Hunter and a Dwarf King.

These three make excellent heroes for the forces of nature army, as a Salamander Veteran, Naiad Stalker and a Druid.
And these two obviously fit nicely into the Basilean army as a High Paladin and an Abbess.
 These two Bosses from the base game will make an excellent Revenant King and Necromancer.

And finally for the characters we have an Orc Krudger, an Abyssal Champion and an Efreet (who is a minion in dungeon saga, but a character in KoW).

If you got a 'carton B' like me you got three Molochs, which is enough for a regiment, they even come on the right sized (50mm) bases.

You also get three each of zombie trolls and trolls, enough for a regiment of each.  One slight issue here is they also come on 50mm bases whereas in Kings of War they should have 40mm bases.  After much deliberation, including considering rebasing them we've decided just not to worry about it and just let them be used as is.  That wouldn't be OK in a tournament obviously, but for friendly games we don't think it will have enough of effect to be worth worrying about unduly and I'm not the only player in our group who wants to be able to add dungeon saga zombie trolls to their kings of war Undead army.

I've also been able to put together a lower abyssal troop.  The bases on these are also the wrong size for KoW, being 25mm rather than 20mm.  The solution here is a bit different, I'm using a frontage of four instead of five (still 100mm) and keep the depth of two, which does mean a depth of 50mm instead of 40mm, but that's not a real issue for friendly games.  You can pull off the same trick with the skeletons, but it's not worth it for me as I already have loads of skeletons on the right size bases.

This is where things get slightly dodgy, in my package I got three tortured souls, on 25mm bases.  In the KoW list they are large infantry on 40mm bases and come as three for a regiment.  My solution is just to put those three figures on a large base of the right footprint.  Ideally at some point I'd make a scenic base with three holes which I could pop the figs in when I wanted to use them in KoW

This little lot of Abyssals comes to 710pts, which if you add 40pts of magic items it becomes a legal 750pt Abyssal army.  Then consider that you can spend 25% of your points on allies, those two troll units come to 240pts, which added to the Abyssals creates a legal 1000pt army.  It may not be the best army ever but you could definitely have a fun battle with it.  If you have a carton B (base pledge plus the three expansions) you also have a Kings of War army!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Dungeon Saga Kickstarter Package Unboxing

It's here finally, a massive box from Mantic which is the new Dungeon Crawling game Dungeon Saga.  I meant to do a proper unboxing showing you how it all arrived and what exactly each bit contained, but I got a bit excited and had to open it all up!

My package essentially contained the Dwarf Kings Quest boxed game, the five expansions (Return of Valandor, Infernal Crypts, Warlord of Galahir, Tyrant of Halpi and the Adventurers Companion) and a few Kickstarter exclusives.  I'm going to give a quick overview of everything and at times it might sound a bit nit picky, but overall this is an overwhelmingly positive buy for me, the game is great fun and I've got an amazing amount of stuff for my money.

The game comes in these brilliant book boxes, with additional sleaves, we only get two with Kickstarter rather than one per expansion like at retail, but that's the price of getting such a good deal.  All the cards, tiles, tokens and books from the base game and expansions all fit in the two boxes, although I will have to find another home for the minis, could have done with a third box really.

The base game, which initially comes in one of the book boxes, is very well done, you get four classic heroes, some undead minions, four fantastic undead bosses, plus tiles, counters, furniture, dice etc.... It comes across as a good quality product.  We've had a few games and it's a lot of fun as well.  I think Mantic have achieved their aim of getting a new Heroquest on the market.  I hope it goes well for them.  I'm certainly very pleased with it.

lets see what we've got them, starting with the minis of course.  I'm impressed with the quality of the sculpting on these, another step forward for Mantic.  A lot of them came bent, but the hot water/cold water technique worked a treat.  A couple have been stuck onto bases at funny angles, but again it's something I'm confident I can fix.  Finally a lot of the minions are only attached to their bases at one point and work better with a dab of glue at the other foot.  For boardgame figures I'm impressed with these.

These are the four heroes from the base game, riffing off of Heroquest we have a barbarian, a wizard an elf and a dwarf.

The heroes from the expansions, Paladin, Cleric, Gladewalker Druid, Niad Deamonhunter, Salamander and a Halfling thief. 

The bosses from the base game, the Necromancer, a Zombie Troll Shaman (how cool is that), a Banshee and an undead Dwarf King.

This is Valandor and B'eal, plus the Orc and Abyssal boss.

 I also got this awesome Dragon!

The Undead set, I got three of these.

The Abyssal set, which I also got three of.  In one of my packs a lower abyssal was missing a base, which I'll have to ask for a replacement for.

The Orc set, which again I got three of.  I also had a problem with one of my orc packs which was missing a goblin archer.

Here we have the base rulebook and five campaign books, there's a lot of missions here, and this is the meat of the game, five whole different campaigns with different baddies.  These are in full colour, if a little flimsy.

Hero cards overlord panels essential for in game reference.

Lots of card decks too, I've not opened all these up yet, but they seem fine.  I'm going to need to get a whole bunch of card sleeves.

Here are half of all the door and furniture in the package.  These are really well done and with nice touches like the removable book for the lectern.  They really help give the dungeon that essential Heroquest feel.

Between the base game and all the expansions I got a lot of tiles, enough to fill two thirds of one of the boxes, much thicker card than the old dwarf kings hold games and a good selection of different styles for battling different enemies.
The expansions are more of the same with different minis, different missions, and new cards etc.  These are also good quality products and look polished and put together properly, the return of valandor follows directly on from the dwarf kings quest and the other three form totally separate campaigns set against either abyssals, orcs or a dragon.

So far so good, but the adventurers companion is where it goes wrong.  This is where all the advanced rules live.  I hate to say it but this is a bad product, the intention was good, essentially trying to replicate the warhammer quest roleplay book, and it does some of that, with basic levelling, random dungeons, solo/fully co-op play and a small bestiary.  All of this stuff looks pretty basic and undeveloped though.  One think that does look good is the character creation, with lots of races and classes.  It's a lot thinner than was I was expecting given the kickstarter graphic, and it's poorly produced with many errors, see the errata sheet next to it in the picture above, and those are only the errors they've noticed!  Having said all that there is some useful stuff in here and it's not unusable, it's just frustrating, if they had gotten this bit right it would have turned this good game into an excellent one.

These last bits are the kickstarter exclusives.  The dungeon journal, with three attendant grey plastic heroes.  This is a smaller A5 book and not combined with the adventurers compainion as origanlly advertised.  It contains a number of new missions for the exclusive characters and all the old dwarf kings hold missions, what is there looks fine but its missing a lot of promised missions.  I'm not going to go through it all as this chap has done that here much better than I could do.  Some (but by no means all) of the missing missions have been promised later as digital downloads, which whilst not as nice as being in an actual book at least means we'll get them.

Finally we have these absolutely fantastic resin mins; Ravenna the witch, Gunn the dwarf engineer and Keldan the elf fighter.  So so pleased with these as minis, however the witch and engineer were promised as classes in the adventurers companion, but alas seem to have been forgotten.  Still minis this good are never a waste to have.  I'm regretting not ordering the resin legendary heroes now.

In conclusion I've got a mountain of excellent stuff here and a lot of adventuring and painting time ahead of me.  Mantic haven't quite delivered on everything, I eagerly await the additional digital content.  The adventurers companion is a disappointment, but ultimately it's not unusable and is one expansion out of five, and I'm not going to let it ruin my enjoyment of the base game and other four expansions.  Very glad I backed this Kickstarter.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Kings of War Reinforcements

We've been enjoying Kings of War of late, and our gaming group is in the process of repurposing old fantasy minis, and buying new ones, to give ourselves more list building options, I can't remember the last time everyone got this galvanised into painting like this.  I'm no exception and I've a few bits and pieces that I've finished in the last week or so;

Lets start with some actual Kings of War minis, these Forest Shamblers for my Forces of Nature army.  I've got three of these coming with my FoN starter army from Kickstarter later in the year, but experience has taught us that 'large infantry' hordes (units of six) are formidable so I couldn't resist getting another three now. 

These three Merfolk are from Foundry and I am planning to use them as water elementals in my FoN army.  I've had to do a different base style for these figs, as merfolk on nice grassy pastures made no sense, so I've gone with what I hope signifies a sort of swampy ground that follows the merfolk around.  It still looks like they're floating about the water somewhat, but they are being used to represent magical nature spirits....

I've also been working on bringing my Hunters of the Wild upto a full regiment of twenty, partly for tactical reasons, but also because I really love the freedom to paint a few individual minis and yet put them together in this most flexible of unit modelling opportunities.  Here we have an ancient Greek piper, three GW Ungors and another Wood Elf sprite.

These five figures are wood nymphs from Foundry's Greek mythology range and will double up in my collection as Hunters of the Wild.

Here we have the whole formidable regiment of the Hunters of The Wild

This is Ronaldo the bard, one of the Kickstarter exclusives, Mantic haven't released his rules yet, so for now I will use him as an alternative army standard.

And finally here are the first five of ten Basilean sisterhood panther riders I got with the Mantic crazy xmas box last year.
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